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“Prophesy! Who Hit You?” March 17, 2016

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Luke 22 is the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, and also revealed the disciples’ spiritual blindness.  While they argued over who was the greatest disciple, Jesus was being set up. Jesus knew.  But the disciples never saw it coming.

My spiritual blindness has never been questioned: Exactly like the song goes, “I am blind, and I don’t like what I think I see.”

My career path evinces my blindness.  I can’t get on a career path because I don’t know the direction to go to get somewhere productively happy.  Which also means, the people around me are blind too.  They don’t know how to help me.  And I don’t know what to ask for.  I have a job, and I don’t know what direction to go.  People tell me to “just” get another job, which sounds so easy, and makes me depressed because for me it’s not.  I’ve tried to find a job while I have a job, but the people I’ve talked to and interviewed viewed me as at best, second best for their opportunities.  At the same time as I really need “a job,” I really want a job I like.  What I want to do is write.  And use my spiritual gifts, and my education and training.  And be used by God to do good things.  And bear fruit for eternity.  And, like everyone else stuck in this present reality, take care of myself and my family.  And I’m a dismal failure at getting on that path.

Yesterday two things happened.  First, something happened to me maybe a year and a half ago, and it required money I didn’t have to fix.  I don’t want to get into the graphic and gory details, so I won’t describe the event.  At the time, it was something that could be fixed, I was told, pretty easily, but it would require an expensive process and I couldn’t afford it.  But I prayed, I trusted, and I waited in hope.  At the risk of exposing a root of bitterness, this has become, over time, a real sticking point with me spiritually, because I trusted in God, and waited for the money.    And I prayed.  I’m still waiting.  I was still praying.  Yesterday that situation, which I have been waiting in hope that God would provide what I needed to resolve, just got worse.

From the prophet:
Psalm 22: 8 “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”

And from the crucifixion story:
Matthew 27: 43 “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

Why would I expect God to help me if He didn’t even help Jesus? Well, because in the plan of things I think Jesus could have had the help if He had asked for it and could have backed out of the divine transaction, but he submitted because of the huge implications for eternity.  But for me, it’s just something I need.  It’s not a life saving miracle, it’s just a process I need to be done that now requires even more money to be done right.  I’ve already burdened my church and they’ve helped with other things.  I wanted God to answer in a more sustaining way than I’ve seen in the last few years, and there’s the sticking point.  That was what “I wanted.” In the grand scheme of things, it’s not about what I want.  But I also read that God hears and answers prayers, so I was just hoping.

Also, yesterday, adding to my already depressed state, it appears I was passed over again for something else I was hoping might happen that could possibly help me, in a life and spirit sustaining kind of way.

I’ve researched and found a poem/song I wrote for Easter back in 2013.  I wrote it trying to be hopeful, in a season when hope is hard to believe, much less find.  But it came to mind yesterday while I was processing my perceived emotional slap in the face.  It expressed my heart then and now, so I’m re-posting it here:


Maranatha, 10/27/2013, Michael N. Johns

It’s been one day that He’s been dead.
I saw Him on the cross.
The spear went in, His heart then bled,
And all my hope was lost.

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,
But He’s gone.

It’s been two days that He’s been dead.
We laid him in the grave.
We wrapped His body, and His head.
Who can a dead man save?

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,
But He’s gone.

It’s been three days that He’s been dead.
It’s almost like a dream.
What were the words that Jesus said?
I’ll be back soon; you’ll see.

We went to say our last goodbyes,
With perfume for the body,
I almost could not believe my eyes,
As angels greeted me

We thought we’d see his body
A cold, dead sadness,
Instead they said, Go in and see,
Fill up your hearts with gladness,
And find hope.

Two thousand years since He’s been gone,
It’s almost like a dream.
What did He say as He went on?
I’ll be back soon; you’ll see.

He sent us out to teach the world
His love, His hope, His story
I believe He will return
He’ll be back soon; you’ll see

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,

He promised me.
I will see.
I believe.


 

So that’s it.  I won’t get into the details of me being passed over again, but it happened yesterday adding fuel to my raging emotional fires.  I partially processed the events last night.

In my spiritual blindness, not that I’m worthy to be compared to the central character of Luke 22, I felt that I was being slapped.  Except, unlike Jesus, I can’t answer the question of Luke 22:

63 And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and hit him.64 And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy!  Who hit you?

I used to have a much sharper spiritual view.  I knew.  But when you pray, and you pray, and you pray some more, and the only answers are further breakage of things that could have been repaired, that now just need to be discarded and I can’t afford replacement, and being ignored and passed over, again and again, by people I trusted and thought had my best interests at heart, the view becomes much more clouded.  In the past, I’ve been pretty naive.  I really try to be trusting and think people will do what they say they will.  I’ve learned, over time, to get certain things in writing.  But I’m not in a current situation where that makes any difference.  I’m currently where I am, looking for the exit ramp that leads somewhere better.

It’s not that my situation hasn’t improved.  It has.  I’m better off than I was a year ago.  It’s just been very slow.  I still can’t fix what’s broken, I still haven’t stumbled across the answer God surely must have already arranged and provided, and I still can’t take care of my situation for now, so it has to get worse before it’ll get better.  I thought I needed an answer, but I’ve heard a deafening silence, or worse, spiritual platitudes about whatever overly simplistic “just do this” answer, or “encouraging” Bible verses my would-be encouragers have discouraged me by providing.  Or worse, the circumstance has gotten worse because I couldn’t fix it sooner, and I still can’t fix it.  Like yesterday.

So just ignore me, you should have stopped reading already. Maybe it’s temporary.  Maybe it’ll be fixed tomorrow.  But honestly, right now, I feel as ignored by God as this guy is by the girl he loves:

I’m just in a spiritual and emotional dark place.  Again.  I feel very irrelevant.  I feel like nothing I do really matters. I feel that what I do could be replaced and done by someone else, or maybe if it wasn’t done, it wouldn’t make any difference. I feel irrelevant to God, and everyone will want to tell me I matter to God, or to fix it for myself as if I had the wherewithal or the stamina.  (I’m sure I do matter to God, only just not enough to answer my prayers yet, and not the way I thought I needed them to be answered.)  Irrelevance is dark.  I’m spiritually blindfolded.

Who hit me?  Prophesy!  Because my spiritual eyes are darkness, and my smoldering wick feels very much like it’s being snuffed out.

I wrote this not anticipating any answers, because although I wrote it about me, it’s not about me.  It’s about God’s answer to my faith.  It’s just another dark season after another dark season.  Will He answer in some miraculous way, or will He answer with more waiting, more silence, more unanswered crisis points because He knows I should be able to handle whatever evil the day has in store for me?  He’s not obligated, and neither is anyone else.  It’s nothing any different or more special than any other thing anyone else would pray about.  Life struggles are common to everyone, and we just have to endure and walk through I suppose.  But it is growing very dark for me again this year and yesterday’s events just added insults to injuries.

Will He answer in some sustaining, fulfilling way, or will it be the same minimalist response like my ongoing doldrums?  I don’t know.  I know that the minimalist responses are probably, minimally, enough.  I was just hoping for abundance, but I can’t even fix or replace what’s broken because I still can’t afford it.  Something else, that seems about 2 or 3 months ahead of a sustainable schedule, breaks and spends the reserves before they’re built up enough to take care of what I need.  Last thing was the cars.  I don’t want a next thing.

Say it:  I’m naive.  I still believe.  I still hope.  And I’m still waiting and praying.  Don’t you dare write a check. I’m not asking you.  I’m asking God.  And the answer I need is something sustaining, not a one-time thing from some poor charitable schmuck who’s a sucker for a sob story.  I need the thing, the Divine answer, that sustains and provides to fix or replace needed things, for the normal wearing out life does on everything and everybody.  And leaves behind enough for me to help the next person looking for a charitable schmuck.  And I also need the fulfilling thing to do to keep that sustenance going, that goes along with my talents, education, training, and experience.  I just haven’t found it.  “I wish I was special,” but I’m not.  If I wanted a one-time answer, I’d set up on gofundme.  And FYI: “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t in the Bible.  Unless you’re a politician.  I think at least one of the candidates probably believes that.

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Fish Sandwich: Bait and Switch? February 16, 2015

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In the mail we received a coupon booklet.  It has a lovely picture of a fish sandwich on it, right on time for those people who routinely eat fish during Lent.  I’m not going to mention the name of the restaurant, but it is a fast food establishment.  It’s very popular logo is supposed to resemble their french fries I think.  I pass three or four of them every day on the way to and from work.  They are everywhere, and their food is just sinfully delicious.  I love fish sandwiches no matter what time of year it is.

The reason I’m not going to mention the name of the restaurant is because I’m giving them up for Lent.  And because I want an apology.  I made the mistake of reading the fine print of all of the coupons, which is better than if I had actually gone in looking for a couple of fish sandwich and trying to use one of the coupons.  If I had actually gone in and had to be embarrassed by the wonderful staff, who are only just abiding by the policies of the corporation, I might never go again.

The advertisement featured their fish sandwich on the front cover, an open invitation suggesting we all try that, and inside, there were a number of buy-one-get-one offers for sandwiches.  However, the fine print of the coupon mailer, on the back of each tiny tear off coupon that referred to sandwiches, excluded the beautiful one pictured on the front.  That’s right, a fish sandwich picture on the front, and fine print on the back, excluding the fish sandwich from any of the offered coupon deals.  Laugh it up at the literal nature of the pun if you will, but I feel we were baited and switched. I’m sure it’s just my impression, but it just feels evil.

Everyone in my neighborhood must have received that mailer!  I wonder if it was a national campaign or a local one.  Did they bait and switch all of the United States of America?  I’m kind of horrified.  Was it intentional, or just some unfortunate accidental misprint, from not reading and correcting the fine print on the back of the previous coupon print-run?  If it was intentional, I can picture the Mcxecutives sitting in their top-story office suites, laughing maliciously at the joke played on their customers.  If it was unintentional, I wonder if they’re wringing their hands at the gaffe.

It may have been a forgivable sin, but unless I get an apology from the corporation I’m giving up eating at this restaurant for Lent, because as much as I love their delicious fish sandwiches and the rest of their great food, I hate being baited and switched by anyone.  There are other vendors who sell excellent fish sandwiches, and they are also on my commuting route.

It’s me.  I’m sorry, it’s just me.  I’m too easily offended.  I tend to think the world at large and all the people in it have some kind of personal whatever against me.  I shouldn’t be so overly sensitive, say my friends and family.  I’m just constantly feeling the sting of everything and everybody who has done something that hurt my feelings, whether deliberate or not.  Everybody, and I mean everybody, has told me to just suck it up, toughen up, accept it and deal with it and move on.  That’s a wonderful suggestion, but I can’t.  In my world, people should treat people right. But in the real world, some people are wrong, tell lies, and do evil things that hurt innocent people like me.  Honestly, I just want to stay innocent and be treated right.  It’s my expectation, fair or not.  That injury hasn’t had a recent chance to heal; the psychological wound keeps getting re-opened and I don’t trust anyone any more.  So I know, it’s just me.  And I hear you saying, “The world does not have it out for you.  Toughen up, suck it up, and move on.”

The trouble is, EVERY time I read the fine print, someone is lying to me.  Right to my face.  I call the bluff and they hand me a line of verbiage that smells like something from the backside of a bull, and they proceed to tell me it’s actually rose blossoms and my smeller is misfiring.  So they tell me it’s my fault and everything I’m thinking is wrong.

With this persecution complex in mind, I’ve written not to suggest I actually expect an apology, but to say I hope everyone else will continue to go to this fine restaurant during the Lenten season and beyond, and not be offended like I was.  I tend to take things personally, especially things that land in my personal mailbox.  But if you go, you won’t see me there until after Easter.  Or if I actually get a written apology, perhaps with coupons for 40 days of fish sandwiches, or maybe even a years’ supply, just a suggestion I’ll put on MY hook to throw out to the corporate heads of that wonderful restaurant.  If they do something nice like that, I’ll let you all know.

I just checked my email and there’s another advertisement including fish sandwiches from a different fast-food place.  I might try them, but they’re a little out of my direct way home.  And I haven’t read the fine print yet.

What? January 14, 2015

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The last post left readers saying, “what?”  Yesterday I tried to write analytically about emotions and that’s very difficult for me to do, especially when I’m just feeling hurt and angry, or reflecting hurt and anger from recent experience.  I wonder if any of my readers ever wrote a letter and then decided a day later not to send it because of the damage it might do.  In the modern age of instant delivery, we rant and shoot off an email or a tweet without much thought of how it might hurt the person it’s being sent to.  Or bounce back and hurt the sender.

Most people I know are all genuinely beautiful, fragile creatures who put on a hard exterior show because they don’t want to get hurt.  Most people I like are those I’ve embarked on the journey of real friendship and we’ve lowered our guard.  There’s a language to friendship just like there’s a language to love.  The scary part of that is that everyone seems to speak their own languages and we’re all like travelers in another country when we start that conversation.  We know some of the words because we were curious, but we aren’t by any means fluent.

Maybe that’s half of the problem.

If you don’t speak the language you don’t know what’s offensive.  It could be a word, a phrase, a laugh at the wrong time, even a gesture or a facial expression.  We all come with baggage of our past histories.  I’ve probably offended people unintentionally just by expressing my opinions on this blog.  But my opinion is as valid as the next persons.  I don’t claim to be expert at anything, but I know what I know, think what I think, and believe what I believe, and I try to be logical.

Love doesn’t mean validating a behavior choice.  People say they don’t choose certain habits, they are born with them, and I agree.  When we are children our habit betrays us- we like to do the thing, whatever it is, that is dangerous, and it’s a parent’s job to intervene.  The parent who is wise knows a destructive direction, and either has to divert the child, or pick up the pieces in the aftermath.  The child doesn’t know and is curious, but chooses to do the thing.  So a loving parent does not validate the child’s curious behavior choice.  The parent either corrects, or diverts, or sweeps the brokenness up later.  I can love you and not validate the way you choose to behave, if I think it’s unwise.  If you ask me, I can teach you that there’s a better choice.  And you, another adult, can tell me where I can shove it.  And I can choose to point out that it’s impossible to do that.  It’s your choice as an adult to reject wise counsel.

This opinion of mine doubtless offends people who need or want my validation of their behavior choice.  I’m a Christ follower, I read the New Testament, and I think there’s wisdom there.  I read the Old Testament and there’s wisdom there too, but I don’t get all nit-picky with those details of God’s instructions to the Hebrews, lest someone decide I’m a bigger hypocrite than I am.  I’ve said it before.  If my wisdom, that I didn’t write down for myself, proves right and your house crumbles, call me and I won’t say I told you so.  I’ll just sweep up the pieces with you.  (and if mine does, kindly do the same.) When my child grabbed my coffee cup and accidentally dropped it from counter to floor, first I checked to make sure the child hadn’t been burned by hot coffee.  Then I removed the child from the dangerous broken shards, and swept.  I did tell my child to please be more careful in the future, and I did say, “I love you,” just so the child knew they were more important than a coffee cup.

OK, the pre(r)amble is over.

Q:  Who has offended me, who has disappointed me, who has lied to me, that I ranted so long and weird about yesterday?

A:  Lots of people.  I learn, and these lessons perpetually assert themselves annoyingly into my life, on a regular basis.

These are my lessons, my laws of relationships, not yours, but maybe there’s a kernel of wisdom in them for you to apply for yourself.  When I say “you,” insert “the writer,” if they don’t fit your experience.  With a proverbial grain of salt, here they are:
Postulate:  People are naturally critical.  One thing that unravels a relationship faster than anything else is a critical spirit.  It’s equally fatal at work and in a relationship.  But we’re naturally critical creatures.  I’m not pointing a finger of blame, but if you go into a room that’s freshly painted, you’re going to notice the spots the painter missed, before you commend them on the beauty of the coat of paint that covers the rest.  It’s natural.  But it’s dangerous, if taken to an important relationship.  If you are overly, or publicly, critical of an employer, they’ll very likely fire you in favor of someone who supports the company goals (or the bosses desire to get what he wants out of the relationship).  If you are critical of your spouse, they might try harder next time, but if the criticism continues it’ll fester and boil and bubble and eventually burst. If you want it to work, try praise, or constructive criticism.  A little honey goes a long way.  But this builds the foundation for:

Law 1:  People are going to disappoint you.
People have a funny way of showing you they love you, if they love you.  They’re going to communicate it in their own language, which is not going to match what you want or need from a loving relationship.  That’s going to disappoint you.  They’re going to give you what THEY need, not what YOU need.  It’s going to disappoint you unless you get a clue and start to give them what they want, which is what they gave you.  There’s time along the way, unless you take some drastic love-amputation action, to discuss as loving adults, what you want.  And when you do, they’re going to further disappoint you when they don’t change.  Your expectations and hopes are not going to be realized unless the person already speaks love in your language, and they don’t.  They have to learn it.

Law 1, Corollary Theorem A:  People don’t change.  They’ll try hard if they really love you, and they might even learn how to speak that love language for you, but it’ll be the hardest thing they ever do, and old habits die hard.  They’re going to relapse, or hate you for asking them for what you need.  (Whoa, “postulate?”  “Law?”  “Corollary theorem?”  Who knew this was going to be like your math or science book? – cue my involuntary flashback to Sam Cooke’s “(What a) Wonderful World (This Would Be).”  The truth is, we don’t know much about any of those subjects and love is possibly the most difficult class, even for those who are avid students.

Corollary Theorem B:  People lie.  I know why that is.  They love themselves.  They want what they want, even if it’s a short-term quick fix.  People go into life with their own agendas.  Sometimes they are transparent, other times it takes a little layer-peeling to figure out if they’re hiding something, or a few bad experiences.  Have I ever lied?  Sure.  Who lies?  People who want what they want, with reckless disregard for other people.  Who has lied to me?  Lots of people.  They got what they wanted, I learned what I learned, and I got out of the relationship as quickly as was possible for me.  Or I’m getting out, if I’m stuck there for some reason.  No, I’m not leaving my wife.  She’s quirky and speaks my language with this weird accent, I’m trying to get used to it and also learn her language.  She knows me better than anyone else, and if there’s a lie that would wreck it from my viewpoint, I haven’t figured it out yet.  It’s been 22 years, and in 22 more we’ll probably still have weird accents when we communicate that we love each other.

If an employer lies, it’s a bit more difficult to unravel, and to extricate yourself.  One needs an income stream, even if the employer lacks integrity.  That is on them.  So employers that have lied to me have gotten away with it until I was able to get out, which leads me to:

Law 2:  Get it in writing.  They have employment contracts, and they have marriage contracts.  If you really want it, get it in writing, or refer to Law 1.  If your would-be employer verbally communicates some promise before you sign on the dotted line, get that in writing before you sign or it’ll be worthless and they’ll do what their integrity (or lack of it) allows.  If your marriage is built on some foundational pillars that are different than mine, get that in writing too.

I have a verbal contract with God that should properly govern my conduct within our relationship.  I also have a verbal contract with my wife.  It doesn’t always get me what I want, and I don’t always do everything I promised in the way that I originally intended.  But we’re still working through, and occasionally enjoying, the relationship.  It’s very difficult, maintaining the effort.  And if I say that it means she’d say it too.  But when Pastor Hosea said “as long as you both shall live,” and I said “I will,” I meant it.  He was a great pastor.  For her, under his wise counsel, I memorized the entire chapter of Ephesians 5.

Guys love the part where it says “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord.”  But it says “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her.”  All she has to do is render respectful submission.  But he has to love her to death, to earn the respect!  Ugh.  So difficult to love, even if, and especially when, it means putting my wants to death.  The wants keep resurrecting, don’t get me wrong, and she has her ways, with that accent, of keeping me quite content.  But it’s with an accent, meaning it’s not spoken the way I think I want it spoken.  And if you asked her she’d say the same about me.  I hope. (Makes me a little fearful just thinking about it.  It’s why the character Tevia from Fiddler on the Roof was written the song to his wife, asking if she loved him.)

I have a verbal contract with my wife.  I agreed to stay married to her for a term of 99 years, with the option of 99 more if she agrees to it, unless one of us dies in which case our contract is dissolved.  I also contracted that if she ever decided to divorce me she gets full custody of the kids.  And she also gets full custody of me.  Because I don’t really ever want out.  Compared to every other relationship I hear about, ours is pretty awesome.  I don’t ever want to leave what I know, for the level of uncertainty that comes from starting again.  I feel very much completed, by her.  If there was a missing piece in me, before we were married, it was her.  I don’t believe, when I’m happy with her, that I could be happier with anyone else.  And I could be much less happy if I tried with someone else.  The eye candy shimmers and glitters in the window.  It’s beautiful, and I leave it in the showroom.  Tomorrow it’s still shimmering and glittering and beautiful.  Sometimes I wonder, and sometimes maybe even doubt my choice.  And I leave it in the showroom because I can’t afford it.  Trust me, you don’t want to pay that cost, and if you’re paying it, or if you’ve paid it, you know what I am talking about.

Law 3:  God is not a vending machine.  Sadly, the truth is that I’ve even been disappointed with God.  As the rain falls on the unjust, so also it falls on the just.  I won’t claim to fit in the just category.  But I’ll say that when I read the Bible, things I read into the promises aren’t always intended in that contract.  I’m misinterpreting when I read it that way.  Just because I ask God for something doesn’t obligate him to give that to me.  Contrary to some preachers, God doesn’t seem to intend that all of his followers be rich and successful and happy with their circumstances.

I wish they were right, but Jesus taught, “you will always have the poor.”  Many, maybe most, of His early followers in the church were very poor.  Who’s to say that by modern standards you might find yourself rained on economically, just as everyone else is?  And while persecution and martyrdom may mark a “success,” it’s not a happy circumstance.  And just because I can see the words in the Bible that some use to justify their opinion or their belief (or mine) doesn’t make it a correct way of handling the Word of Truth.  It’s not so much that God allows bad things to happen to good people, so much as that God allows people to be selfish and evil and in His mercy waits and doesn’t destroy the wicked immediately.  And thank God for that, because I have moments of selfishness and evil.  Not that any of you ever would.

So although my prayers have been answered with “no,” or “wait,” it only makes God a good Heavenly Father, a good Heavenly parent, redirecting or correcting.  My spiritual three year old still wants what he wants, but can’t have it.  I wish I could say I haven’t ever thrown a temper-tantrum about circumstances as an adult or as a child.  I can’t say that.  I wish I had that wise fatherly view over myself, to understand how His “no” or “wait,” whichever one it is, was in my best interests.  But I don’t get it.

God is intervening, redirecting, diverting me when I’m choosing a thing, because that thing isn’t His best, or my best, for my spiritual growth and development as a child of God.  I have to trust Him and believe that He loves me.  I’m not on His level, nor do I understand things the way He does.  It sounds so cliche, but He knows what is best, and we have to learn what He says is right, or tell Him where to shove it.  And He will then gently let us know why that’s impossible.  Or not- He’s not required to answer.  “Because I said so,” is a perfectly valid answer for a parent to offer their child.  At some level, a child trusts their parent, at least until they’re maybe 14.  Maybe I’m not a three year old, I’ve become that self-reliant, petulant, mistrustful, disrespectful, eye-rolling 14 year old- I still need His help, but I wish I didn’t.  It makes me angry that I haven’t inherited independence and strength sufficient to go on my own.  Trying to be entirely self-reliant only leaves me wishing I had remembered to do my homework, and dreading the failing grade that’s coming.  And I wish I understood what He knows and what direction I should take.  I wish I just trusted and knew what He wanted me to do.  I wish I could communicate in His love language.

And in human love, and in human friendships, we have to trust each other, try to figure out how to say what we need to say to each other, how to say it so it’s understood, , and work hard not to betray that trust.  We need to speak the truth in love, not just the harsh, critical sounding truth.  We need to encourage one another.  If we fail, we’re going to break.  If we succeed, by our labor, we’ll grow up well, and become stronger together.
Blessings.

June 6, 2014

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I was at the workplace for my part time job, and had just clocked in.  If you clock in early they fix the punch so you’re in at your appointed time.  But in fairness to them, if you clock out early they bump it forward to your appointed ending time, as long as their 7 minute window isn’t breached.  And, if you run out of work to do near the end of the shift, they pay you for a full day because you showed up.  It’s hourly, but they sometimes run out of work to do because the support staff behind our production team hasn’t fed the work to our system yet.  I was a little early and noticed a little button that said something like “view user information,” I had never clicked before.  So being as impetuous as I sometimes always am, I clicked it.

It showed my information, from the time I started working there until now.  But the verbiage used by the system was…  Well I’m not sure if it was hilarious or disturbing.  Maybe strange is the word I’m floundering for.  I’ll let you be the judge as I am still reflecting on what it means.

It said my start date but proclaimed it “The Beginning of Time.”  I swear I am not making this up.  Apparently the earth is younger than you all thought, as the “Beginning of Time” is somewhere in the latter part of 2006.  Take that, Old Earth-ers.  Not Millions and Millions as Carl Sagan estimated. Carl Sagan approximates the forming of the earth at about 4,142,465,753.42466 years ago – which puts the beginning of earth on about June 4 (http://peace.saumag.edu/faculty/kardas/Courses/HP/Lectures/sagan.html ).  Not spun into motion 6017 years ago, in October 4004 BC (James Ussher, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ussher_chronology).  Take that, Young Earth-ers. Nope.  My computer said “The Beginning of Time” was September 2006.  If it’s right because it’s on the internet, surely it’s just as right because my computer said it.  If life begins in the beginning, unless you were born after 2006, you, friends, are only 7 years old.

There was no end date or projected end date.  Instead it declared my end date as “Forever.”  No kidding.  If this is forever, I must have died and gone to heaven by now.  Wait.  Um…

http://img.izismile.com/img/img4/20111025/640/morning_picdump_640_high_18.jpg

Yeah, I’m doing it for my family and also for me.  And it isn’t paradise, but it isn’t hell either.

How old are you?  How old do you feel?  Friends of mine comment on my childlike impetuousity, some in less than flattering ways.  I’ve been described as an “old soul,” when tapped for wisdom, but if any wisdom I share actually works, I stole that from the Bible.  I’ve been described as “foolish,” even “childish.”  That’s the cold stinging truth, although it’d be nice if you toned that down and said I was “refreshingly childlike, with an irrepressible, youthful mind.”   And in life and marriage I’ll assert, I only feel 23.  That is to say, old enough to be legal and young enough everything is still good.  But this darn white hair growing in my beard…  and the silver threads creeping onto my head…  must be lying. When my back is sore, or my feet are tired, unless I am resting I feel about 65, which is telling me it’s time to retire and rest from whatever labor I’m involved in that’s making me so tired.  (For the record I am somewhere in the low middle in between those two ages.) 

∞ – that little math symbol means “infinity.”  I’m only awake from just before 7AM to just after 12:30 or 1AM, working the 8 hours in the morning and the 4 and a half part time at night.  I’ve been at this two job thing for a while, but it’s starting to feel like infinity.  Thank God it’s Friday. Sadly, I feel like I’m on a wheel trying to revolve it from need to pay the bills to paid the bills, and I’m afraid I’m actually on a Möebius strip, getting nowhere but back to the same side.  Same thing with arguments about certain things, they go nowhere.

I wasn’t here at the beginning of Earth-time.  I wasn’t here at the beginning of Creation or Big Bang or whatever flips your trigger.  Neither was Carl Sagan and neither were you.  Carl took what he thought to be an educated guess, it’s a theory, not something we can go back and prove.  Ussher did his calculations and took an educated guess, but he wasn’t there either and we can’t go back and see it happen so we can’t prove that either.  Does it make a huge difference to you if the earth is 4 billion, 140 million years old and started on June 4, or 6,017 and started sometime in October?  Scientific theory that wants to edge God out asserts they can prove theirs.  Scientific theory that wants to shove God in asserts they can prove theirs.  At the risk of having stepped in it, I actually believe the Bible tells it right, but I’m not as precise feeling about it as Ussher.  Speaking as a fan of Dr Who, maybe it’s one of those wibblywobbly things that, surprisingly, I don’t believe requires a precise answer.  It goes to show how people can take what they want and pay their money, and make their choices, no matter how foolish those choices may or may not turn out to be.  Whole religious movements started out because someone made a calculation, made a prediction, and the blind led the blind until they all fell into a pit.  Or someone said they found an ancient manuscript, but they don’t have it any more, because the hobgoblins took it to the mountain.  Or someone wrote a pretty good story with an intriguing philosophical viewpoint.  But that doesn’t make them right.  It doesn’t make what they wrote somehow holy, especially when the details are so paradoxically different from things like manuscripts and books they claim are also true.  Nor do the guesses of Jimmy or Carl, however educated, make them right.  God asked Job, near the end of his trials, if he (Job) was there when He (God) made the earth.  He stammered and fumbled.  Some actually take that verse and think God wasn’t being hyperbolic.  They actually believe he (Job) was there.  Well if he was there, he should have been able to answer.  In my humble opinion, none of us were there, so we don’t know.  Maybe God asked him by way of saying, if it’s My plan perhaps it’s outside the scope of your understanding, so hush and I’ll take care of things.  Or perhaps it’s the same as in Romans 9, where Paul talks about some vessels being created unto honor and some being created unto wrath.

Paul told both Peter and Titus (Titus 3, II Timothy 2) to steer clear of genealogies, and of probing the infinite depths of idiotic questions because they just start fights.  Whose family is better, yours or mine or theirs?  Well my ancestor was a President.  Well his ancestor was a bank robber.  Well your ancestor was famous.  Well his ancestor was a drunk. Well, well, well.  What have they done for me lately?  Is my life better because they did whatever they did?  Does not matter.  They aren’t here, they’re dead.  It means nothing to me, it affects nothing in my life.  When did the Earth get created, or form because cosmic particles coalesced and cooled in just the right random coincidental way?  Doesn’t matter.  I wasn’t there and neither were you.  Those answers mean nothing to me, and affect nothing in my life.  We’re here now.  What have we done lately to help another person or make things better?

 

People waste so much time arguing over how old God is, how old the Earth is, scientific and other pseudo-scientific and genealogical and genetic and dare I say Law, and other name-your-field inquiries that don’t go anywhere or contribute to the welfare of anyone except the person spending the grant money.  How do I get on that gravy train?  Ask a silly question and make it sound important enough to explore for an answer.  And then publish my findings in the scientific, or pseudoscientific, or legal, or Biblical Studies, journal.  The scientists are looking for God so hard they named a subatomic particle after Him.  Or maybe it’s just that they want God to be small.  It’s fascinating, but does it really contribute to a better world?

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  a) You don’t believe in angels, or don’t believe in them the same way I do.  b) I don’t care.  Why would they do something so stupid? c) depends on the size of the angels and the pin.  Get one of each and we’ll measure. Historically that question was asked by way of sarcasm, at people who ask questions like it, trying to disprove the existence of God, or delve into mysteries that are worth less to answer than “Has your (homeless) neighbor eaten today?”  Are there ghosts?  If there are ghosts, why don’t you believe in a God who created souls, and all other things?  What about demons?  Have you read the newspaper? There’s so much evil I don’t even think Satan needs to send them out as he already owns humans who do enough evil in the world, they’re not necessary (call me crazy but I believe demons do exist, since I believe angels and God exist).  Can God make a rock he can’t move?  Someone or someones, actually took the time to write this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnipotence_paradox .  My head is spinning and I only looked at the first half of all of that.  But then I have my mind on other things so perhaps it’s just that I’m distracted.

In the spirit of jumping onto a gravy train and riding it all the way to the roast beef and mashed potatoes, I think it’d be fun to have one or two of those questions for my very own, with a per diem for my efforts, to ponder, to philosophize, to research, to write, and to publish until I am obscenely wealthy. until the earth is a better place and people are able to be better people because I was on it.

My favorite question reminds me of one of the old “how many fill-in-the-blank does it take to change a light bulb” questions.  It goes:

Q:  How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?  
A:  One.  But the light bulb has to really want to change.

In that same spirit, here’s my favorite foolish theological question and my own favorite foolish answer:
Q:  Can the Omnipotent God make a rock that He can’t move?  
A:  Yes, it’s called the human heart, or the human spirit.  That has to want to move (change).  See II Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Mental Note To Self:  He might strongly support me better if my heart was completely His. Maybe I wouldn’t need the night gig.

And Prayerful Note to God, please change my heart and fix my sights and my heart on You.  I want to see that.

Because God made us with free will, the first man, back at the beginning, had the ability to choose whether to obey or not.  He did the one thing God told him not to do.  He was advised it would cause bad things to happen.  He did it anyway, and then tried to put the blame on Eve.  More recently other legends have been written to explain the problem of evil.  Pandora’s box, a rose which by another name, again, just blames Eve.  Blame the Serpent, AKA Satan.  Blame Shiva, The Destroyer, who says destruction isn’t really a bad thing anyway.  Blame Loki, but he’s just playing a joke.  Blame Ahriman. Blame our strongly held illusions on our mutual path to enlightenment. Blame Voldemort.  Blame the guy who just selfishly and quite ignorantly, cut you off in traffic.  Or, look in a mirror.  Ignore the guy in the car behind you who’s flipping you the “you’re number one!” sign because you cut him off.  

Because we still have a free will, one of those principles which is rarely trumped, is that we have a choice to do things that are good, or do things that are bad, or fritter away our time doing nothing of impact and lasting value.  God doesn’t usually step in there and make us follow Him and do good work.  Just like Adam and the tree of knowledge options, Moses and the burning bush instructions, Noah and the ark blueprints, and Jonah’s ticket to Nineveh offered the choice of whether to do what God wanted or not, so also do we.  And then we live with the consequence of what was, or wasn’t, done.  Don’t get me wrong, God has been very persuasive in the past, so if it really needs to be done He’ll keep asking until someone comes along and does it.

If nothing else, it’ll keep you entertained and working hard in the time between “The Beginning of Time” and “Forever.”  I think those questions people ask like that say something about the position of their hearts, more than the depth of their character on being able to ask some unanswerable question.  The dawn of time, the age of the Earth, they mean nothing to me, and affect nothing in my life.  We’re here now.  What have we done lately to help another person or make things better?  And because we can’t go back to the past, what’s our plan for the future, and for eternity? 

Will we bury ourselves in minutiae and questions that don’t go anywhere?  Will we bury ourselves under mountains of proof of how good our family ancestry was, as if that furnishes some kind of proof of how worthy we are?  Or will we listen and see if God calls us?  And If we hear the call, who will answer?  Why not you?

Why not me?

I believe He calls all of us.  I may have questions and doubts just as Moses.  I may run the other way just as Jonah.  I may disobey just as Adam.  People may call me crazy, like I’m sure they called Noah as he was building the ark.  But I hope my answer is yes, when He calls me.  And I hope your answer is yes, too.